Every major metropolitan mainland USA city has a tropical escape for those that thirst for a taste of exotic drinks, bamboo laden decor, and Aloha spirit. That oasis for New York City is the Lani Kai restaurant and cocktail lounge. Without being tacky this contemporary tiki bar themed destination sets the tone to solve your mainland fever woes. In addition to the standard Beers & Pours, Lani Kai owns an expansive and premium priced ($13 seems to be the magic number) drink menu that includes categories such as:
SPICE & TROPICAL TEA - e.g. Teeny Weeny Hot Bikini (Cachaca, Green Chartreuse, jalapeno syrup lime and fresh mint. $13)
BRAIN FREEZE - e.g. 808 State (A blend of white rums, pineapple, lime and velvet falernum. $13)
BOOZY & STIRRED - e.g. Kingston Negroni (Campari, Jamaican rum, sweet vermouth $13)
THE ISLAND OF MANHATTAN - For those that still need local spirits, such as the New York Sour (Rye whiskey, fresh lemon and orange juice with a red wine float. $13)
OLD SCHOOL - Standard tropical drinks such as the Mai Tai.
RUM FLIGHTS - e.g. Intro To Cane (La Favorite Blanc, Appleton V/X, Zafra 21. $20)
TIKI CORNER - e.g. Blue Hawaiian
OHANA (family) - Concoctions invented and made exclusively by bar staff.
ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE - e.g. Pele's (the volcano goddess) Wrath (Blanco tequila, Aperol, grenadine, pineapple juice, lime juice and demerara. $13)
Under each of the above categories you find a huge selection to satisfy the beverage tastes of which island your heart hails from or belongs to. For groups, be sure to order from the Liquid Luau Share Glass which includes one of our all time favorite tiki bar share orders - LANI KAI PLANTERS PUNCH which Raisin infused aged rum (so unique!), Jamaican rum, lime, demerara and Angostura bitters ($48).
We could go on and on about the Lani Kai drink menu but for those that wish to also wet their appetites Lani Kai holds an ono menu with pupus and more. Start your meal off with the Ahi Tuna Poke ($16) which makes you feel as you've been dropped off onto the shores of Oahu for evening dining. The Loco Moco for Two also delivers a Hawaiian Island favorite with a bit of a gourmet twist (lamb, azuki bean rice & peas, fried eggs, demi glaze gravy, grilled scallions. $32) and for dessert they actually have Malasadas - slightly overpriced at $10 and aren't quite Leonard's Bakery caliber BUT they are still a treasure to find all the way in New York City.
Lani Kai is an escape from New York with plenty of Aloha in its service, drink and dining menu. It's also Waikiki resort priced (high) but such is the cost for importing the tropics to this mainland metropolis.